We now have another “FSC” in Nova Scotia forestry 1July2021

Logos for the two FSCs now associated with forestry in Nova Scotia. “FSC#1”, the Forest Stewardship Council was founded in 1993 and has operated in NS since the early 2000s. “FSC#2”, the Forestry Sector Council arose from “rebranding” of the Nova Scotia Forestry Human Resources Sector Council in April of 2021

Most of us associate the acronym “FSC” with Forest Stewardship Council certification. Recently, the Nova Scotia Forestry Human Resources Sector Council for which “interim management was provided by the executive of Forest Nova Scotia” rebranded itself the Forestry Sector Council and is using the acronym FSC in its literature. It seems an unnecessary muddying of the waters.


The FSC acronym used in relation to forestry is widely recognized as the Forest Stewardship Council.  Of the two major forest certification organizations, FSC and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), FSC has the more stringent requirements.

At one time, the Nova Scotia Government held  FSC certification for the entire Medway District. It had been certified under Bowater in 2010; the certificate was passed on to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when the Bowater lands were purchased in 2012, and DNR successfully renewed the certificate in 2014.

Then there was that  “embarrassing episode in late summer of 2014, when the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allowed Ledwidge Lumber to clearcut a 40-hectare tract of public forest bordering Lake Panuke that had been classified as “environmentally sensitive,”* and “an independent panel was tasked with reviewing DNR’s forest management policies for Crown land. The findings of the Panuke Lake Review Panel called for significant changes that included a recommendation for government to expand FSC certification to all Crown lands in the province.”**
*Going sour (grapes) on FSC certification: NS retaining only less rigorous SFI system on Medway forest Jamie Simpson Sep 16, 2016 on his Acadian Forest blog; **Government flip-flop on FSC Certification a major step backwards for public forests, EAC, March 1, 2016

For a period, it seemed the new Liberal government would do just that, i.e. expand FSC certification to all Crown lands in the province. From the EAC post of Mar 1, 2016:

Several studies have encouraged the government to expand FSC certification in the province in the face of a growing divide amongst stakeholders and the public on issues of forest sustainability.

In early 2015, an independent panel was tasked with reviewing DNR’s forest management policies for Crown land. The findings of the Panuke Lake Review Panel called for significant changes that included a recommendation for government to expand FSC certification to all Crown lands in the province.

In addition, the Ivany Report makes reference to certification under Game Changer #5; “A Shared Commitment to Sustainable Development and Regulatory Excellence.” The report recommends “adoption of the most effective and widely accepted certification standards for sustainable resource use, conservation and responsible harvesting practices.” In this context, FSC is the most effective and widely accepted forest management certification system in the world.

Before yesterday’s announcement, the government seemed poised to expand FSC certification in the province, having made numerous commitments to maintain and expand FSC certification on publicly owned Crown lands and even acknowledging FSC as the “gold standard” for forest certification.

In February 2015, in response to the Panuke Lake Review Panel report, former DNR Minister Zach Churchill indicated that the government would be expanding FSC certification throughout the province, a commitment that was greeted with an enthusiastically positive response from the Ecology Action Centre and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

In October 2015 DNR stated that maintaining FSC certification for the Medway District would be a condition of license for the consortium of mills that will soon be given long term access to Crown lands in western Nova Scotia.

I remember this well. For a period, we were on a truly progressive tack for Nova Scotia forests and forestry.  Had that continued, we probably would not have had the uproars about forestry practices that led to the Independent Review (2017-2018),   the Lahey report  and the continuing strife that has followed.

But then, as the NDP Government had done under Dexter, and the Liberal Government would do later under Rankin (re: the Biodiversity Act), the initially environmentally progressive Liberal Government under McNeil  – elected in part by people disillusioned with the Dexter Government’s backtracking on the Natural Resources Strategy recommendations on forestry – suddenly backed off. From the  EAC post Mar 1, 2016:

Barely a year after the provincial government committed to expanding Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to all Crown lands in Nova Scotia, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has suddenly dropped the FSC certification for the Medway District, a 90,000 hectare parcel of lands purchased for the former Bowater mill in 2012.

“At a time when the public and stakeholders have been calling on government to improve forest management practices, dropping FSC certification is a significant step backwards for forestry on publicly-owned Crown lands” says Matt Miller, Forestry Program Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre (EAC).

Forest management on Crown lands in western NS will now be certified through the weaker Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification system, which does not have the support of leading conservation and social groups.

“By dropping the FSC certificate for the Medway District, government can no longer claim that forestry on public lands in western Nova Scotia meets the highest bar for environmental stewardship. FSC is the only system of forest certification that is recognized by environmental organizations across the world. In addition, major companies around the world have stated their preference for FSC-certified fibre” Miller said.

EAC also commented that they had “raised several concerns with FSC auditors during the most recent audit of the Medway certificate. At this point it is unclear whether or not the findings of that audit will be made publicly available.”

One has to wonder whether FSC certification involved too much transparency for comfort for DNR and that “consortium of mills” (later to become WestFor).  There are issues to be had with FSC Certification as it relates to NS in particular, (view post), but transparency is a strong point.

Resolving the clearcutting issue by changing the language

Subsequently in 2016, we heard a lot of gobbledygook from DNR  about how ‘nature-based requirements of Nova Scotia’s lands’ were now being met, and the Natural Resources Strategy (2010) goal of reducing clearcutting to 50% of all cutting was no longer necessary.

We have now developed tools that ensure that all harvest treatments are aligned with the nature-based requirements of Nova Scotia’s lands.” – Statement under Goal 13 in the Five-year Progress Report on the 2011-2020 Natural Resources Strategy released Aug 16, 2016 by NSDNR.

This language was presumably composed by the same people at DNR who had solved the clearcutting dilemma for the Dexter Government by defining a clearcut in a way that meant they had already gone a long towards achieving the  50% reduction in clearcutting recommended in the Natural Resources Strategy.

Anyway, as now painfully recorded in posts on this website beginning on June 21, 2016, the talk of nature-based forestry didn’t fool enough people enough of the time and Nova Scotians became only more concerned about what they saw   happening on the landscape.

The Liberals got the message and went into the next election promising an ‘Independent Review’ of it all. They got another  majority government, Iain Rankin became the new Minister of DNR/L&F,  the review took place over the course of a year, and the “Lahey Report” was submitted on Aug 21, 2018.

Then, rather than respond in a meaningful way to the Lahey recommendations (L&F tried but quickly backed off ) the language folks got to work again, this time eliminating the word clearcut from the DNR/L&F lexicon, citing instead “variable retention” (re: response of the government to Lahey report, Dec 3, 2018 & subsequently.)

(The public was starting to catch on however, and began to express concerns about clearcutting AND even-aged management; also post-Lahey Report, there have been more widespread concerns about loss of Old Growth (and of Older forests given the sparsity of genuine Old Growth), also about impacts of harvesting during nesting season and more recently about carbon sequestration.)

Ironically, the language manipulations may be catching up with L&F. In a statement on Oct 15, 2020, Forestry Maps  stated that  all harvests that retain 20% or less of the standing trees are considered to be a clearcut… and those harvests retaining over 20% of the standing timber [are considered] as non-clearcut a move that allowed allowed L&F  to claim that clearcutting in NS had been reduced by 27%  since the implementation of the Interim Retention Guide (Dec 2018).

However, based on the  2012  defintition of a clearcut, which remains posted on the novascotia.ca/natr website, the cutoff line would be 60% retention, not 20%. Oh dear.

FSC #2

I’ve sidetracked. What is the “other FSC”? Enter Forest Nova Scotia, the  forestry industry activists who successfully thwarted* the Natural Resources Strategy for forestry from being implemented in any way like the public expected and who were unabashedly involved in getting Rankin to back off on his Biodiversity Act.
*View Comments on the Phase II Recommendations… and In Search of Compass and Gyroscope under Perspectives on this website

From the Working Forest Newspaper (late June, 2021):

One of the most diverse boards in the industry, with five of its nine directors being women, this is an exciting development. FSC can trace its roots to the Nova Scotia Forest Industry Regional Industrial Training Committee, formed in 1989. The committee eventually evolved into the Nova Scotia Forestry Human Resources Sector Council. While the organization has been in existence for some time and has provided support for various human resources-related activities, it has grown most substantially over the last twelve months.

Prior to the appointment of the new board, interim management was provided by the executive of Forest Nova Scotia, to whom the FSC owes a debt of gratitude. The last few years have not been easy ones for Nova Scotia’s forestry sector. Despite that, the industry and its people have survived and are looking forward to a bright and optimistic future.

Of course, there was a little government funding to help this “not-for-profit“, “industry-led initiative”, including  “$250,000 for workforce planning and development” provided in Dec 2020. I couldn’t find any info. on subsequent funding, however the June 28, 2021 report on Pulp and Paper Canada notes that “The FSC [is] funded through the department of labour and advanced education” so I guess there is more than one  government pocket involved. No word of any support from the struggling sawmills.

FSC #2 is linked to the new Centre of Forest Innovation, also  located in the Truro area.* I hope it fares better than Dexter’s Forestry Innovation Centre  which was to make NS a petro power based on producing diesel fuel from full-tree harvesting. Somehow after spending X millions of NS taxpayer $, that seems to have fizzled and one of the partners involved, FP Innovations,  set up the  first biodiesel refinery  in Quebec, not NS. (Not that I wish it had been set up in NS!)
*A couple of Quick Facts from the June 28, 2021 News release: – Recommendation 43 in Prof. Lahey’s review was related to attracting and retaining forestry professionals to Nova Scotia and attending to their professional development. – NSCC’s proposal to establish the Centre of Forest Innovation came from a partnership with Labour and Advanced Education, the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, the provincial Forest Sector Council, the Mi’kmawey Forestry Initiative, and the NSCC Foundation.

I’m rambling.

Note the use of the acronym “FSC”  in the quote above from the Working Forest Newspaper. According to the FSC#2’s  website where the acronym is also used, the “rebranding of the Nova Scotia Forestry Human Resources Sector Council (NSFHRSC) occurred in April 2021

Our organization began in 1989, as the Nova Scotia Forest Industry Regional Industrial Training Committee (RITC). With a shift in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in 2000, the RITCs evolved into sector councils, and we became the Nova Scotia Forestry Human Resources Sector Council (NSFHRSC). Re-branding in April 2021, we became the Forestry Sector Council (FSC) that we are today!

So there it is, get used to the new branding, including use of the acronym, folks. “FSC”.

So what will happen if FSC #2 decides at some point that it is pertinent to talk about Forest Certification and they have to mention  FSC#1? Surely the students at the newly announced Centre of Forest Innovation at NSCC will learn about forest certification. I suspect the Forest Sector Council who will likely have a big hand in the new Centre will not want to be referred to as  “FSC#2”. So  will the reference to FSC certification have to be “FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)” and the reference to the newly formed body be “FSC (Forestry Sector Council)”?

So much for the convenience of acronyms.

Surely, the discussions about rebranding included some discussion of the overlap in the acronyms. If they wanted to stick with Forestry Sector Council why  couldn’t it have been “Nova Scotia Forestry Sector Council (NSFSC) to reduce confusion?

Dunno. It seems an unnecessary muddying of the waters which makes me wonder if it was deliberate. On the other hand, precise use of language seems to elude even our senior civil servants in the forestry sector and perhaps it was all an unfortunate oversight and will soon be corrected.

An invitation to the Forestry Sector Council 

Perhaps my perspectives and expectations have become pretty one-sided. I invite the Forestry Sector Council to respond to this post or otherwise comment on their perspectives and activities and I will place it as a Guest Post on NSFN – David P

Some links with info. on FSC Certification in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Association for Woodland Certification//Forest Stewardship Council® forest certification for landowners in Nova Scotia
According to a document on this site,  in 2018 there were over 900 member woodlots. “The majority of the woodlots in the program are relatively small in size, with an average of 82 ha…The program is made up primarily of individual woodlot owners, however there are two Community focused woodlots in the group (Pictou Landing First Nation and East Bay Area Community Council).”

Guide to FSC Certification for Woodlot Owners in Nova Scotia (13.1MB)
MTRI document, 2011

Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia – June 1, 2021 – Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) has announced the successful transition of its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) Maritime certification to the new FSC national standard for responsible forest management in Canada.
“The Crown lands licensed to PHP under the Forest Utilization License Agreement with the province of Nova Scotia have been certified to the FSC Maritime Standard for Best Forestry Practices since 2008.”

Port Hawkesbury Paper: FSC Certification
Page on the PHP website. Links to FSC Chain of Custody and Controlled Wood Certificate and FSC Forest Management Certificate

Great Northern Timber
holds a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC® – C099959) Controlled Wood Certification: https://ca.fsc.org/en-ca/certification/controlled-wood

MTRI: Where to find FSC certified woodlots, printers, mills and retail outlets in Nova Scotia
Map and List

Science issues and lack of landscape/watershed level planning by Nova Scotia DNR limit what can be achieved through forest certification
Post on NSFN Feb 22, 2018

NSP, PHP, NSDNR and FSC appear to be complicit in burning primary biomass from Loon Lake area, increasing GHG emissions, and calling practices “sustainable”
Post on NSFN, Mar 17, 2019

From the Working Forest Newspaper article (Nova Scotia’s Forestry Sector Council appoints new board of directors):

Members of the Board of Directors include Andrew Fedora, Chair who is currently Leader in Sustainability & Outreach for Port Hawkesbury Paper, with over 25 years’ experience in the forestry sector.

Cassie Turple, First Vice-Chair Cassie is a third-generation sawmiller from Enfield, Nova Scotia. She is an Executive Member and Past President of the Wood Product Manufacturers Association of Nova Scotia (WPMANS).

Amanda Mombourquette, Second Vice Chair Amanda was elected to the municipal council in Richmond County in 2020 and currently serves as both the Councillor for District 4 and Warden.

Jocelyn Taylor Archibald, Executive Committee Member Jocelyn has been employed with Taylor Lumber Company Limited for over 15 years in various roles, from woods crew to management. She has served industry board tenures, including being the first female Director and Chair of the Maritime Lumber Bureau.

Elizabeth Jessome Elizabeth is the Mi’kmaq Forestry Initiative Project Manager at the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources.

Heidi MacInnis Heidi has been employed with Port Hawkesbury Paper as Human Resources Manager since 2012.

David Meister David is a part-time forestry professional who operates a sixth-generation forestry operation in New Ross.

Adam Scott Adam is currently a Project Manager with Scott and Stewart Forestry Consultants Ltd. and has 15 years of experience in silviculture.

Marcus Zwicker is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Freeman Lumber, after spending nearly six years as the General Manager of WestFor Management.

The article cites an Executive Director, who is Heather Boyd

(This info is not currently cited on the Forestry Sector Council website)

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